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A Scandal in Wikipedia?
September 18, 2012 9:42 PM   Subscribe

Allegations have surfaced that a Wikipedia trustee and a Wikipedian In Residence have been editing the online encyclopedia on behalf of PR clients, while running an SEO business on the side. Response. Trigger warning: Violet Blue content.
posted by unSane (74 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
No matter how hard I try, I just can't feel shocked about this.

I hope Wikipedia gets it cleaned up. Something like this could do major damage if it's not stopped in a way which makes it clear it is no longer happening. And even then, I'll find there's a nagging doubt. Such a shame.
posted by hippybear at 9:53 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Older accusations of conflicts of interest and influential Wikipedians: previously and previouslier.
posted by zippy at 9:54 PM on September 18, 2012


"When Wikipedia's founder was told about Bamkin's client in relation to Wikimedia UK, Jimmy Wales wrote: 'Wait you can exploit Wikipedia for money? Why have I been begging for funds every other week since the site launched?'"
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:57 PM on September 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


Lots and lots of wiki articles look like complete white washes. I guess this is why?
posted by Chuckles at 9:59 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


'Wait you can exploit Wikipedia for money? Why have I been begging for funds every other week since the site launched?'"

Wasn't that what Wikia was?
posted by drezdn at 10:00 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


How is Violet Blue involved in this?
( the Boingboing/Xeni affair is not really a good comparison - BB is far from being in same league or category as Wikipedia )
posted by Bwithh at 10:01 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


She wrote the article (the meat of the story) in the third link.
posted by unSane at 10:01 PM on September 18, 2012


untrikiwiki prevented me from two-finger-swiping back to the previous page (on my mac). Hence I find them suspicious.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 10:04 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"When Wikipedia's founder was told about Bamkin's client in relation to Wikimedia UK, Jimmy Wales wrote: 'Wait you can exploit Wikipedia for money? Why have I been begging for funds every other week since the site launched?'"

See the previous thread: "Can $650 in dinner drinks buy a Neutral Point of View?", in which
[Former Novell chief scientist] Jeff Merkey,... claims [Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy] Wales told him in 2006 that in exchange for a substantial donation from Merkey, he would edit his uncomplimentary Wikipedia entry to make it more favourable.
And that's just one of the fiscal scandals around Wales circa 2008.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:06 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


She wrote the article (the meat of the story) in the third link.

Yet her page is a great example of typical wiki white washing. Her birth name is not mentioned, the talk page is blank...
posted by Chuckles at 10:06 PM on September 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


Lots and lots of wiki articles look like complete white washes. I guess this is why?

Yeah, it's really not a good source anymore about living people or even vaguely contentious topics, because it's constantly gamed... apparently, by the employees of the company, we're finding. I've gotten to the point of calling it the Encyclopedia of Lies, myself.
posted by Malor at 10:06 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


The explanation page posted by UntrikiWiki includes this:
We’ve never made a single edit for which we had a conflict of interest on Wikipedia – ever. Although we have advertised such a service, we’ve not aggressively pursued it ...
Their excuse is that they got caught before the could do anything unethical, so it's okay?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:07 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the untrikiwiki statement, they state that they've "never made a single edit for which we had a conflict of interest on Wikipedia – ever" and follow that up with "Starting now, and lasting indefinitely, we will not accept any paid conflict of interest Wikipedia editing work."

Good job, idiots.
posted by phaedon at 10:08 PM on September 18, 2012


talk about too big to fail. this is the problem with the aggregation of volunteer content - if wikipedia blows up then millions of manhours of unpaid work goes down the toilet, and google's results make no sense for 6 months.
posted by facetious at 10:09 PM on September 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Maybe we can separate the living people and companies section from the history and geography and science sections?

Otoh, I've sometimes suspected the agendas or at least the provenance of some historic links as well. Check out anything to do with Tamil poetry, you can almost see the poor guys typing away out there in Chennai somewhere.

On preview:

and google's results make no sense for 6 months.

They make little sense right now.
posted by infini at 10:11 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we are seeing this play out in a number of areas. When something starts out with lofty ideals, it can attract the type of person who is more concerned with appearing to have strong principles than they are with living up to them. Add success and the potential for profit to the mix and you have a recipe for ethically dubious and/or mission-compromising decisions which are casually made and poorly justified. If Wikipedia can figure this out it might turn out to be a bigger contribution than the encyclopedia itself, as it will become increasingly relevant in coming years as more and more idealistic & critically vital internet communities begin to outlive the enthusiasm, ability, or basic health of their leaders.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:14 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


flt: Not to say anything about this particular story, but Merkey lives in what the judge in a trade secrets trial called a "separate reality world." (Same judge: Merkey's story was "patently false." "Simply put, [Merkey's statement] was not honest." And so on.) Anything he says in public (such as that claim about Wikipedia) is more likely to be the opposite of the truth than the truth.
posted by louie at 10:15 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Look at these people who spend countless hours editing Wikipedia to the extent that they treat it as a profession. You don't think they have a means of support somewhere?

if wikipedia blows up then millions of manhours of unpaid work goes down the toilet

If Wikipedia blows up, the useful content can be restored either as a static preservation or as a new encyclopedia forked off the original. There will still be ways to extract the useful information.

How is Violet Blue involved in this?

Please tell me that name is a pseudonym.
posted by Yakuman at 10:16 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just wait until it's revealed that a Japanese anime syndicate is really the one writing all those detailed anime articles and "in popular culture" references.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:16 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, I think this is a direct consequence of the gamification/reputation trend on social sites. The incentives are way out of line.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:17 PM on September 18, 2012


Wikipedia isnt a encyclopedia, its a legal system. Just like in the real legal system, you gotta spend a bunch of cash to get the best top-o-the-line justice.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:28 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wikipedia is certainly not free of scandal or taint. But they're the guys who got the critical mass together to make a (sort of) open source Internet Encyclopedia a real thing, and we're pretty much stuck with them now, since it makes no sense to have more than one. But what's more important than the scandals themselves is how quickly they are discovered and stopped. So this article seems like a pretty good thing.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:29 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


When something starts out with lofty ideals, it can attract the type of person who is more concerned with appearing to have strong principles than they are with living up to them.

I think that's probably true, but I think Wikipedia's instant problem is simpler than that. Wikipedia's barrier to entry is less-than-zero, and as a result it attracts people who, for a variety of reasons, cannot or will not accomplish anything outside of Wikipedia. People like that are attracted because Wikipedia welcomes them with open arms—almost more so than people with real qualifications in order to prove its own "ideal"—and rewards their naked investments of time and attention with power and influence.

These people haven't learned any of the lessons that (generally) come with working your way to power and influence because they didn't work for it, they simply "hung around" long enough to get it by default. No surprise that they misuse that influence. Put simply and indelicately, they are the wrong kind of people to have it.

In an unrelated note, I admit that I don't recognize the name Violet Blue so maybe I'm missing some gigantic backstory but I don't see why an FPP that links to an article written by a woman needs to include a comment that links to a video of that woman topless.
posted by cribcage at 10:38 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure knowing Violet Blue makes that link any less irrelevant or offensive.
posted by phaedon at 10:41 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Comment deleted; cut the crappy Violet Blue comments.]
posted by taz at 10:47 PM on September 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't remember the day that I found out that Santa Claus was just a story that little kids were jerked around with, I suspect it happened over time, looking around at older siblings and seeing some sort of knowing ... Smirking, probably, though they were still playing along to let me keep the dream for a while longer. And then coming to know it, and also to know that I was supposed to be cynical about it, and scoff at it, though the fact of the matter was that wouldn't it have been nice if it was real? But, it wasn't. And isn't.

It seems that part of being a grown-up is just accepting these sorts of truths over and again.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:47 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


What is amazing is that Wikipedia survives despite these "noisy" signals. The whitewashing gets, well, not washed, but made part of the history of the page. So you can look back and know where the PR campaigns were bought, when caught. To some degree, that's as important a part of an encyclopedia article, knowing that monied interests wanted and tried to rewrite it on the sly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:01 PM on September 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


since it makes no sense to have more than one.

Why not? Fork Wikipedia for great justice.
posted by phrontist at 11:04 PM on September 18, 2012


taz: "[Comment deleted; cut the crappy Violet Blue comments.]"

And the crappy trigger warning jokes too.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:09 PM on September 18, 2012 [29 favorites]


Anybody can fork Wikipedia if they want to. You can download all 8 gigs and host them somewhere, but those pages won't be the top Google hits. Like Facebook, it's the size of the userbase that makes it useful. Everybody knows about it, and millions of people edit it.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:33 PM on September 18, 2012


Chuckles: Yet her page is a great example of typical wiki white washing. Her birth name is not mentioned, the talk page is blank...

It's because it's been archived (1, 2). The archive links sort of disappear in the wall-of-text from different Wikipedia subprojects who sprout up on almost every page.
posted by Harald74 at 11:37 PM on September 18, 2012


Look at these people who spend countless hours editing Wikipedia to the extent that they treat it as a profession. You don't think they have a means of support somewhere?


I think quite a few of them actually live in their parent's basement. No joke.
posted by Harald74 at 11:40 PM on September 18, 2012


So is there a reason there isn't an entry for UntrikiWiki on Wikipedia? Seems like this is a good reason to write one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 AM on September 19, 2012


As draconian as Wikipedia can be it is surprising Jimmy is being soft-handed so far. This is obvious grounds for removal from the broad of trustees (the board even has the word "trustee" in it).

The fact that this is coming to light is a strength of Wikipedia, now it only remains for the appropriate steps to be taken.
posted by Shit Parade at 12:43 AM on September 19, 2012


never made a single edit for which we had a conflict of interest on Wikipedia

And yet, if someone is paying you money to make an edit, lo! A conflict of interest!
posted by smoke at 1:30 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]




it is important to separate "this information source has been compromised and here's what this says about the internet etc." from "lulz wikispergs"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:04 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


White washing on Wikipedia is not new of course, even white washing with official approval. There was John Byrne, who got his page blanked and reconstructed on the personal interference of Jimbo, there's Giovanni di Stefano, the so called lawyer for whose profile Private Eye and the Guardian suddenly weren't good enough sources anymore; I'm sure there are other examples of arbitrary decisions made by Wales and co against the letter and spirit of Wikipedia rules.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:21 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only places where I've ever found Wikipedia useful or reliable are on topics so dry and so technical that the gibbering hordes don't touch them. Like SAML.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:56 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


On top of everything else, Gibraltar's a country now? Was there a war for independence that I missed?
posted by McCoy Pauley at 4:05 AM on September 19, 2012


Yet her page is a great example of typical wiki white washing. Her birth name is not mentioned, the talk page is blank...

Surely the History tab must still have things...right? Source control logs are sacred. If they aren't....this software engineer doesn't know what to cling to anymore.
posted by DU at 4:09 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's that you say? Crowdsourcing can be gamed? I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!
posted by Thorzdad at 4:24 AM on September 19, 2012


They have clearly been guilty of self-linking. They should be given their $5 back and told to get their own blog encyclopedia.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:45 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


>Yet her page is a great example of typical wiki white washing. Her birth name is not mentioned, the talk page is blank...

Surely the History tab must still have things...right? Source control logs are sacred. If they aren't....this software engineer doesn't know what to cling to anymore.


Nope, she sued to whitewash her own page. It isn't just whitewashed, it's sterilized with gamma radiation.

You will find the Encyclopedia Dramatica page more informative. If you can wade through their childish jargon, you will read details of Violet's lawistu and temporary restraining order against a senior wikipedia editor to enjoin him from editing her page.

Violet has a serious grudge against Wikipedia. She has no credibility on this topic. But that's not saying much, she has no credibility on any topic, not even when speaking about herself.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:47 AM on September 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is a lawistu some kind of massage?
posted by LogicalDash at 5:02 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lawsuit. Or perhaps the Encyclopedia Dramatica term is more appropriate: LOLsuit.

Sorry, my bluetooth keyboard's buffer has been doing strange things since the last OS upgrade.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:12 AM on September 19, 2012


So our main article about this whole thing here is written by someone with an ax to grind?

Yuck.
posted by inturnaround at 5:31 AM on September 19, 2012


The problem with a project powered by people is that people are pretty crummy.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:49 AM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


On top of everything else, Gibraltar's a country now? Was there a war for independence that I missed?
Nope, still a parasite sorry, "British overseas territory". Long Live the Empire! What?!
posted by Jehan at 5:52 AM on September 19, 2012


I think this is an example of the perfect storm of problems that wikipedia is facing at the moment. None on there own would be fatal, but together they are doing huge damage to the project:

1. Wikipedia has never been more popular - if you have a wikipedia page it will rank near the top of google for any query - so there is money to be made in controlling pages for clients, I can't imagine it is not common practise for many PR firms now to attempt to limit the damage to a clients page.

2. Wikipedia is HARD to edit well. It is pretty easy to add some vandalism to a page (and pretty easy to deal with that). But editing a wikipedia page well is hard, from a purely technical perspective the interface is awful. It is a markup language which there are dozens of slightly different ways to markup a reference and where improperly formatted additions are ruthlessly removed or attacked by bots and semi-automated patrollers.

3. The insane bureaucracy has scared away new users and given wikipedians a reputation amongst many geeks of being a clique. This is a diagram of the different "help desks" that wikipedia has - it is ridiculous. If you post to the wrong one expect to be given short shrift.

4. The insane bureaucracy makes it nearly impossible to change anything. If you want to make a significant change to the way wikipedia runs you will need to run a "Request for Comments" for 30days - this is essentially an open invitation for anyone who cares to skimread your proposal and then post their opinions. Many people on wikipedia will oppose you, more will believe that they understand better or suggest "improvements" or propose that you trial the feature for "x days" ect ect. This is a pretty simple and uncontroversial proposal, extremely well presented, and it is still a huge deal with a long argument with several editors who have decided to oppose the proposal. There is no structured way for serious people to think hard about how to improve the site and implement those proposals, and the wikipedia foundation is an ineffective body, totally divorced from the user-base - implementing dozens of tiny experiments and odd additions. If you think wikimedia works well, go read foundation-l for a while, it is a constant shouting match between divorced opinions.

5. There is no longer a culture of good faith (if there ever was). The one thing people outside wikipedia hear a lot about is this culture of good faith collaboration. Nonsense, wikipedia runs as a perpetual argument where he who shouts longest will probably eventually win. This has been a brilliant model for building the encyclopaedia up, but it is a horrible environment to keep working in for a long time. Unfortunately this has created a significant proportion of the user-base who are there because they like arguing and correcting other people. Only a tiny fraction of the user-base is making significant high-quality scholarly contributions to articles on a regular basis, and they are in spotty silos. Wikipedia is great if you want to help write articles about battleships or obscure anime shows, a deserted wasteland for users interested in philosophy, and a battlefield for those who decided to write about global warming or Israel or any other of dozens of "hot button" topics.

I say this as someone who still enjoys editing wikipedia and writing (almost always on my own) high quality articles. But I think the project structure is totally mad and collapsing around the site.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 6:08 AM on September 19, 2012 [30 favorites]


Seconding the idea that Jeff Merkey is not a reputable source. See groklaw for more details, but this is a guy who's been called dishonest in a federal judge's "findings of fact".
posted by atbash at 6:39 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"We’ve never made a single edit for which we had a conflict of interest on Wikipedia – ever. Although we have advertised such a service, we’ve not aggressively pursued it – and we have not accepted any clients interested in on-Wikipedia work."

Uh, this means that you are /entertaining/ the notion of making an edit that will put you in a conflict of interest situation.

Fascinating how sometimes we can use words to twist the sad truth so hard, just so we can look in the mirror and know we are good people.

Wikipedia already has editors -- this means it is subject to editorializing of all kinds, good and bad.

But once you monetize that editorializing -- or reserve the right to do so in the future -- you go from "encyclopedia" to "advertising" very quickly.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:53 AM on September 19, 2012


BTW, why the hate-on for Violet Blue? I mean, I know she's no stranger to internet tempests-in-a-proverbial (to borrow her tortured imagery) but this article is pretty much just-the-facts-ma'am.

What these guys did is inappropriate and clearly contrary to expected behaviour for the roles they take for Wikipedia. Wales agrees, and he should know.

Why call out Violet Blue in this fashion?
posted by clvrmnky at 6:59 AM on September 19, 2012


I think the VB mention in the FPP was an attempt to do an end run around a total thread derail about her having written the article which outlines the situation. She's been a contentious figure on MetaFilter in the past, and it easily could have turned out to be all about her and not much about gaming Wikipedia.

There may have been a better way to do that. But that's pretty much how I saw it when I first read it.
posted by hippybear at 7:03 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


google's results make no sense for 6 months.

They make little sense right now.


Indeed. Don't bother trying to, for example, search for a component part number hoping to find technical information about it, because there are 10k-15k sites and metasites and meta-metasites trying to sell it to you (even though they don't have it, btw). Don't get me started on the millions of sites that exist simply to repost eBay listings...

The only places where I've ever found Wikipedia useful or reliable are on topics so dry and so technical that the gibbering hordes don't touch them.

On the contrary, I've found the gibbering hordes are equal opportunity douchebags when it comes to compulsive editing. I've given up trying to correct even the most obscure and technical articles in areas I'm an expert in because there's always some "editor" who reverses my edits with vague rationales. Querying them invariably reveals 1) they know absolutely nothing about the topic, and 2) they see their job as enforcing the bureaucracy AT ALL COSTS. Just look at the Fuck You that Wikipedia gave the author trying to correct a misrepresentation of the motivation for a book he was the author of. That's some pretty impressive hubris right there.

Wikipedia is where people who's dream job is to be a petty government office worker in a Monty Python sketch go when they get on the Internet.
posted by kjs3 at 7:06 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


@hippybear, that's how I read it, too. Talk about editorializing!
posted by clvrmnky at 7:29 AM on September 19, 2012


benito.strauss: "The explanation page posted by UntrikiWiki includes this:
We’ve never made a single edit for which we had a conflict of interest on Wikipedia – ever. Although we have advertised such a service, we’ve not aggressively pursued it ...
Their excuse is that they got caught before the could do anything unethical, so it's okay?
"

Heh yeah - Sure I've put ads on craigslist indicating I'm a hitman for hire, but I've never actually MURDERED anyone, jeesh!
posted by symbioid at 7:37 AM on September 19, 2012


I put the trigger warning in because VB often brings out the worst in people on MeFi. It's not meant to imply anything about her -- I have no opinion about her at all, so if it came across as editorializing, sorry.
posted by unSane at 7:50 AM on September 19, 2012


The trigger warning came across more as making light of trigger warnings which we would appreciate that people not do here. Please feel free to take further discussion of trigger warnings and/or Violet Blue (outside of the discussion of this thread topic) to MetaTalk as of now.
posted by jessamyn at 7:57 AM on September 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, it's really not a good source anymore about living people or even vaguely contentious topics

Anything involving religion is a joke at this point.
posted by empath at 8:14 AM on September 19, 2012


The only places where I've ever found Wikipedia useful or reliable are on topics so dry and so technical that the gibbering hordes don't touch them. Like SAML.

Unlike kjs3, I haven't ever put effort into editing technical topics there. I do notice lots of missing information on technical topics though. I checked out their article on Docsis (cable modem standard), and I couldn't believe how terrible it was.

I still think Wikipedia is a fantastic resource though. Interesting just how wrong the old school criticisms have proved to be.. Yes, Wikipedia will be filled with issues, but not at all the kind of issues that Britanica et. al. predicted.. but maybe I'm remembering their criticisms incorrectly.

When exactly is a talk page archived? Just on a whim? After a certain amount of time?
posted by Chuckles at 10:14 AM on September 19, 2012


Notice interesting mention of Wikipedia manipulation for PR purposes on mefi, click to read about it, notice who wrote it, scan mefi comments for "Wendy Sullivan" or any meaningful discussion of trying to sue people for PR purposes, find nothing, note irony, move on.
posted by trackofalljades at 10:24 AM on September 19, 2012


"[this] is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing." - Rod Blagojevich
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:55 AM on September 19, 2012


Notice that trackofalljade's comment has no actual useful content in it. See that poster commits drive-by snarking, not contributing to fixing the problem he or she vaguely alludes to.

If there's a problem, or we've missed something, trackofalljades, and you know what it is, it's now your fault it's not here.
posted by Malor at 10:57 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jeesh, trackofalljades, you've pulled off an amazing combo of making me curious about what you've mentioned and so irritated by your style that I have negative desire to try to find out more.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:10 AM on September 19, 2012


He's trying to do the VB derail I warned about. Resist.
posted by unSane at 11:17 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's trying to do the VB derail I warned about.

With respect, unSane, I think you laid the rail for that derail with the "Trigger warning" thing.

If you had just posted the article and people had started with "Violet Blue wrote that and I think she's unwonderful and also her own Wiki entry blah blah blah" the mods could have nipped it in the bud as it arose.

Putting "Violet Blue trigger warning" in the FPP is like waving a red flag at a bull. Now we get lots of roaring and plenty of bullshit.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:42 AM on September 19, 2012


Or if you had posted a first comment like "Yeah, the second article I linked to is by Violet Blue, and I know she's controversial here but I think she makes some good points in this piece" or anything other than "Trigger warning."
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:43 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Weird. My first crush was in 2nd grade. A girl in my class named Wendy Sullivan. My birth date is within a month of Violet Blue's. I grew up in the bay area. I wonder... nah.
posted by ctmf at 12:01 PM on September 19, 2012


Great post title, btw.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:39 PM on September 19, 2012


The Response (shorter): We've never done it and we'll never do it again, promise.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:42 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wish there was a place to go for complaints about wikipedia to be discussed by a cabal of wiki-editors who are not judgmental dorks. Like a forum or tumblr ask page where you can find powerusers who can advocate for common sense issues on 'pedia. Please consider this O wiki-champions, if there isn't a public defenders office and scandals and common annoyances will stockpile until donations just might dry up or the site pisses off the wrong bunch of Anons.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:48 AM on September 20, 2012


I'm pretty sure you can't "derail" a conversation by mentioning something significant that's related to, well, one of the key points literally mentioned in the initial statement that started the conversation. If someone wants to be mad at me, that's cool. If someone wants to be mad at the OP, that's cool too. I won't argue with either of those reactions. I do think accusing me of derailing anything is a little sideways though.

If I was unhelpful, then let me try to clarify what I meant...I look at "the whole VB thing" the same way I look at political discussions involving Israel. There's a lot to talk about, and you have to lay out every single one of the puzzle pieces, even the messy ones, on the table first if you're ever going to get anywhere. It's a "long talk." Maybe it's the kind of talk you can't even effectively have in asynchronous written exchange...I dunno.

My criticism was intended for those in many comments above who are saying, in various and probably well-intentioned ways, that this is one of those cases where we should all leave some puzzle pieces in the box and never mention them again. I simply disagree with that approach.

Back on another of the several topics raised by the OP, if this helps to "rerail," I think Wikipedia has some serious soul searching to do here, and I'm hoping that in the days to come there will be some sort of substantive response (like, announcing some functional changes, not just a PR statement by someone). I know it's really easy to be harshly critical of Wikipedia (both in concept, and in implementation). For some reason however, I remain fascinated enough by it to care and so hey, I'd really like to see something positive come out of this ruckus. I guess time will tell.
posted by trackofalljades at 7:50 AM on September 20, 2012


I admit that I don't recognize the name Violet Blue so maybe I'm missing some gigantic backstory

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on September 20, 2012


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